Designing a low-power, long-range radio locations system to ensure redundancy at sea


I aim to design a backup locations system for use on the Ocean Power Technologies PowerBuoys®, a line of generators developed for use in remote oceanic activities like research and offshore drilling. Because these buoys occupy harsh environments for long periods of time, it is important that they are equipped with a redundant communications system to facilitate their recovery in the unlikely event of a catastrophic failure at sea.

What was Developed?

This project saw the creation of a two-part radio communications system for the PowerBuoy®, consisting of a backup module and a locator device. The backup module connects to the buoy over a local WiFi connection, collects data with an onboard GPS receiver, monitors its own battery level, logs data for postmortem analysis, and in the event of a system failure, broadcasts over a LoRa (Long Range) radio transceiver. The locator module connects to a user’s laptop and relays LoRa messages, and is intended for use with a recovery team.

Project Advisors

  • Dorothy Wang (ESE advisor)
  • Neil Williams, Joe Sarokhan, and the Ocean Power Technologies team